Throwback Thursday: Ultimatum

‘I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t do that.’

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

It’s 1977, and this pilot fish’s company is moving to a new data center. “The old facility was in the basement of the headquarters building,” says fish. “Access was via an ancient magnetic strip reader with no special capabilities. You either got in or you didn’t.

The new facility has state-of-the-art card readers, supported by a small midrange system. It has lots of capabilities — which can be a bit of trouble when you have a security department that’s paranoid about access to the facility.

And trouble does arrive, about a month after the move to the new building, when the security department programs the system to allow admission only during scheduled working hours.

For mainframers such as fish, that’s 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and anyone who arrives early has to stand around waiting to get into the office.

And then the inevitable happens. A few days after the new security rules are enabled, one of the system programmers gets a call at home in the middle of the night to come to the office and fix a problem.

He drives in, gets to the door — and can't get in. The security system won’t unlock the door for his access card.

A security guard is on duty, but he’s not authorized to override the security system for employees. It takes several hours before the system programmer can get into the data center to fix the problem.

Next morning, a senior IT staffer walks into the office of the director responsible for IT infrastructure, and the discussion is brief and heated.

“He simply said that either this was his office and he was free to come and go as he deemed necessary to fulfill his duties, or it was not his office — the decision was up to the director,” fish says.

The senior guy then returns to his desk and begins to pack his personal items.

“The director called our manager into his office for another brief discussion.

“The senior staffer was asked to unpack his personal items, and the security department was ordered to remove all time-constraints from the system immediately.”

You can get easy access to Sharky. Just email me at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.


Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon